Curators to discuss tuition rates

A $15 million budget cut could jeopardize the system's tuition freeze.

The UM system Board of Curators will meet Thursday and Friday at Missouri University of Science and Technology to discuss tuition rates for the coming school year among other subjects.

UM system spokeswoman Jennifer Hollingshead said it is only possible to speculate on decisions the board will make.

"It is likely that the board will discuss the tuition rates, but we cannot predict everything that will be discussed," Hollingshead said.

The Missouri Senate Appropriations Committee approved a budget that would cut an additional $15 million from higher education last week. If passed by the state legislature, the new budget would violate a tuition freeze agreement between Gov. Jay Nixon and four-year public universities.

Universities froze in-state, undergraduate tuition rates as part of the agreement in exchange for the state cutting no more than $50 million from the higher education budget.

MU spokesman Christian Basi said decisions made by the board would not be based on the Senate Appropriations Committee's budget suggestions.

"Right now, we are currently planning tuition for next year to be set with the agreement that we made with Gov. Nixon," Basi said. "We are not ready to speculate on what would happen should that agreement not go through."

Board of Curators Vice Chairman Warren Erdman said it is possible many aspects of tuition rates would not be discussed at the board's meeting.

"The Board of Curators will discuss some tuition and fees this week at the Rolla meeting,” Erdman said. “However, I believe that we may not be able to consider all of them at this meeting. The Missouri General Assembly is still considering appropriations for the upcoming year, and until those appropriation levels are known with more certainty, it may not be possible to take action on all of the tuition issues for next year."

Consumer Price Index is related to tuition rates, according to policy on the Missouri Department of Higher Education Web site. If state legislators agree to cut more than $50 million from higher education, MU tuition rates could increase by as much as the consumer price index, or 2.1 percent.

In a UM system news release, UM system President Gary Forsee emphasized the university's loyalty to its students and its support of the current agreement with Nixon.

"We have held undergraduate tuition flat in 2010 by working proactively with the governor and General Assembly and have pursued that same tact for 2011 while accepting a prescribed cut to our core budget," Forsee said.

UM system Board of Curators Chairwoman Judith Haggard said the curators' decision would depend on the finalized state budget.

"We do not know the outcome of the legislators' decision at this time," Haggard said. "Our discussions will be based on that."

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